Distorte is a collection of stories written by Pierce Gleeson

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Fortune Favours

Shipwreck by Xanthus Russell Smith

The captain offers me a sip of his cocktail. It’s his own invention. Equal parts rum and gin with a twist of sea-water. Got to be creative with the Lord’s provisions, he tells me. God provides a lot more than half an acre of bare rock set adrift, I want to say, but don’t. I am reluctant to say much these days. He’s quite volatile.

My fear of the captain has grown along with the notion that he sank our ship deliberately. It may be delirium (honestly — to what end? my much-beleaguered rationality interjects), but to watch him sitting happily astride the ration chest roaring shanties and swigging away our disinfectant, I can’t help but feel he’s delighted to be here. It may be no accident we mounted those rocks.

Suspicions were aggravated after the recent incident with Stephen. Spotting a distant light on the horizon one night, the boy set his shirt on fire and held it aloft in the hope of attracting rescue. The captain immediately shattered a bottle over the lad’s head, claiming afterwards he thought his hair was alight, and that he’d been attempting to beat out the flames.

Stephen does very little now, mostly lays out on the rock while I feed him the odd biscuit or sip of water. I am collecting water using bottles and my raincoat. We have been lucky with the weather thus far.

The captain remains obsessed with forming factions. We vote on which card game to play next, how many crackers Stephen should be given, whether the captain should be allowed drink all the gin. There’s not much point voting, I offer, when there’s only three of us on the island. He tells me democracy is all we’ve got left of civilisation. Sometimes he lets me have Stephen’s vote.

So life is quiet, as you can imagine, the three of us sitting at the edge of the surf, bickering away the hours between storms. There are no birds out this far, nothing breaks the roar of the waves except Stephen’s quiet sobbing and the captain’s loud singing. I suppose i should be upset. Distraught, even. But I can’t seem to feel too sorry for myself. As time passes and the days flit by, it’s looking increasingly unlikely that I will have to marry Immelda after all.

Written by Pierce Gleeson
Posted on the 11 Jun, 2008